FISCH stands for Future for Iringa Street Children and was founded in 2007. In Tanzania 18% of children aged 0-18 are either orphans or vulnerable children. However, in Iringa the number is higher than other region . The National Statistics Bureau of Tanzania state that it is 24%. The long term aim is for the street children to become self-sufficient, balanced, well rounded and valuable members of the community. DTCF make a monthly donation to FISCH to assist with the running of the Centre.
This was our first visit to their new site. Having made our way past all the curio sellers, telling them we were headed for FISCH; and arrived at the site we thought that this was a really good location. Arriving unannounced, we were greeted by Stephano, Erasto and Miraji.
Unbeknown to us, Friday 14th October was a public holiday. It was Nyerere Day which commemorates the death in 1999 of Julius Nyerere, the father of the nation. He served as leader of Tanzania and previously Tanganyika from 1960 until his retirement in 1985.
This therefore was a good day to visit as the Schools were closed and the students were at FISCH attending their homework help clubs. These students were mainly from secondary schools. This Club was set up to assist the students with their homework. At night the students do not have electricity in their homes and so are therefore unable to complete their homework. By attending the drop in centre they are able to settle down for a couple of hours to complete their work. Two rooms have been converted into classrooms and there is a library of textbooks used by the Tanzanian primary and secondary school curriculum. Students will be sitting their final exams in November. The students were working together on their studies and in one of the rooms there was a teacher assisting the group.
We also visited the Sewing Group. This group meets on a daily basis. In the room were several young girls learning how to sew led by Elimino. They had four treadle sewing machines owned by FISCH and one belonging to Elimino. The items that they had produced were of a very good standard. The girls demonstrated their confidence in operating the sewing machines.
The site appeared well organised. We visited the first aid room and saw the basic supplies in the cupboard. The first aid room was staffed by a pupil who was now a trained as a nurse and Erasto was hoping that funding would become available to employ her on a fulltime basis. The children appeared to be happy.
Following the tour of the Drop in Centre we talked with Erasto, Stephano and Miraji concerning their hopes for the future.